Zoku Natsume Yuujinchou
Since he's moved into his new location, Natsume Takashi has been living a pretty nice and quiet life. He's meeting new people and forming tighter bonds with the ones he's known since moving there. And he's continuing his task of returning the names of the youkai who comes searching for him together with Nyanko-sensei.
It is this bond, however, that eventually taught Natsume just how important his friendship with these spirits are, and just how awful it would be, were he to suddenly lose this ability.
Like other shows before it -- Aria, Maria Watches Over Us, Sketchbook -- Natsume Yuujinchou continues to be a quiet slice-of-life drama based on the adventures (and not MISadventures -- it's not that kind of show, thankfully) of a young man who carries a special ability few people share. The transition is as seamless as any of the aforementioned shows, each episode as self-contained as the others (with one of the stories-of-the-moment stretching over two episodes this time around.)
Now, I say "gentle and quiet", but despite this, the first two episodes of the first two seasons were among the most choke-strangling, tear-inducing episodes of anything I had ever seen. They hit so hard, even the rest of the first season had a hard time keeping up, which still sort of counts long into this season.
Zoku Natsume Yuujinchou also continues its own tradition of being mostly about the youkai, and, like the first season, they are still presented as emotionally and morally diversified as the first season. A few of them even carry over from the first, like Hinoe and Hiiragi (though the latter might be explained with her being the familiar of Natori the exorcist, who is one of the returning human characters. And the former, I guess, through her association with Natsume.)
The human side still doesn't fare much better either, though we are eventually introduced to a group of humans in a community, some of which are probably as close as this show is willing to give us villains. It's hard to tell, though, since those appearances are limited to one episode alone, presumably to be followed up on if there ever is a third season to be made.
But more than anything, the show just strikes that perfect balance of reflectiveness, sentimentality and fun that I've grown to love so much in the shows I watch. Even the comedy has grown on me. Not so much in that the show is trying to be funny, but through my viewing of the show, Nyanko-sensei's antics are more likely to raise smiles than I remember it doing in the first season. Zoku Natsume Yuujinchou does suffer a little from the same small flaws that nudged Sketchbook ~Full Color's~ down from being five star territory, but it's still a compelling watch that no fan of sentimental drama should miss.
I can only hope that someone sees the merit of releasing this show on DVD, like so many other shows I've earlier thought had no chance of ever being picked up. In the mean time, I heartilly recommend the manga (going under the name Natsume's Book of Friends), which DOES have an official release.
Still gentle, quiet, tear-jerking, warm, fuzzy, occasionally dark and frightening, and, most of all, compelling. — Stig Høgset
Recommended Audience: Zoku Natsume Yuujinchou doesn't really have a lot of onscreen violence, but there are some darker themes still running around, and some of the youkai -- or even some of the human beings -- have a rather vicious streak when dealing with others.
Version(s) Viewed: Prerelease fansub.
Review Status: Full (13/13)
Zoku Natsume Yuujinchou © 2009 Brains Base.
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